Mitt Romney's in town!
Well, actually, he's not. But his campaign is -- and the Colorado team is officially in full swing with the official opening of the presidential candidate and presumptive Republican nominee's offices in Lakewood on Saturday.
"It is an exciting day, because today, we have the opportunity to kick off the Romney campaign here in Colorado officially," Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call told a crowd of more than 150 supporters schmoozing on Saturday afternoon inside the new offices.
Emphasizing that this site, just off of Colfax, is the official statewide "victory" headquarters for Romney, Call said the Lakewood launch is about setting up a joint effort to boost the GOP candidates in races throughout the state.
"This coordinated victory strategy is going to help us not only win Colorado for Mitt Romney, but also make sure we give him a Republican Congress," Call said.
The event was aimed at promoting Romney in this crucial swing state, and speakers and supporters in attendance often focused on what seems to be one of their major selling points for Romney -- that he's not Barack Obama.
"The opportunity to change direction is what this election is going to be all about," Call told the cheering supporters, packed inside a room where volunteers began making calls on Saturday.
"Colorado is going to be one of five to seven battleground states that may very well decide the outcome of the presidential election," Call told Westword after his speech. "Colorado's nine electoral college votes could be decisive in determining whether we have four more years of Barack Obama or we have an opportunity to change direction by electing Mitt Romney."
While he expects a close fight, Call told us that he's already seen that Obama is struggling with voters.
"The other side is pretty desperate.... The president's campaign message is all over the place, because he's not finding anything that's sticking. So unfortunately, we are going to see Obama and his supporters adopting an incredibly negative and personal attack against our candidates and against Republicans overall, as opposed to what most people do when they're running for re-election -- they point to their great record," Call said. "Well, Obama can't point to his record, because his record has resulted in forty straight months of unemployment north of 8 percent and a dismal economic climate where entrepreneurs and business owners don't feel confident...and rampant debt and federal spending. There's no other way to characterize it."
This kind of message was underscored by posters and slogan plastered on the walls and throughout the hallways of the new headquarters.
One sign above the phones reads, "220,000 unemployed Coloradans."
"OBAMA [in red letters] Bad for Business" reads another, near a different sign saying "OBAMA = Out of TOUCH."
Bobbi Blakeman, a volunteer from Denver who works in retail and took a short break from the phones to chat with Westword, said she used to be a Democrat when she was younger, but quickly grew disillusioned.
"I've seen what liberalism has done to people," she said. "I know a lot of people who are hurting."
Blakeman said that four years ago, when John McCain was running against Obama, there wasn't much excitement amongst conservatives in Colorado until Sarah Palin joined the ticket.
"This is a fantastic turnout today. Conservatives are very upbeat now about Mitt Romney," she said, adding that she's frustrated with Obama, because "socialism doesn't work."
Supporters in the room said they were pleased Romney's campaign chose to base the state headquarters in Jefferson County, which will likely be key in the final outcome.
"We should all be honored Romney chose...Jefferson County," Joe Coors, who is running for Congress, told Westword.
Ben Schwelling, from the Boulder County Republicans, said Romney's campaign needs to inform voters about key issues, since young folks are blindly supporting the current president.
"Fourteen-year-old kids are wearing Obama T-shirts like he's MC Hammer," Schwelling, 31, told Westword. "Romney is a ruthless businessman and that's what we need right now."
Shirley Seitz, another volunteer, added, "We're rocking and rolling...and we're ready to go."
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